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GC Magazine

Practically GC: From Learner
to Leader

ITV’s director of legal affairs, Barry Matthews, and the company’s first ever in-house apprentice, Holly Moore, discuss the UK TV network’s pioneering adoption of the ‘Trailblazers’ apprenticeship scheme.

Catherine McGregor

Editor-in-chief

Barry Matthews (BM): When I became aware of the Trailblazer scheme [developed by UK firms in conjunction with CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), I thought ‘why aren't we doing this?’ The key to being a great in-house lawyer is understanding the business as well as the law; hence the qualification is a natural fit for in-house. We worked intensively with Jenny Pelling at CILEx Law School and Angela Jackman at City University over a six week period to devise the ITV scheme. We had to devise how to work a seat system that gave the apprentice experience of all four divisional legal teams and compliance.

Holly will work as part of each divisional legal team while studying, and will obtain a LLB and the equivalent of a LPC/PSC qualification after six years. Year one of Holly’s studies focusses on contract law, and Holly has just started drafting contracts for us this week as part of the Commercial and Group Marketing legal team. The experience will really be from the cradle to the grave in terms of what ITV does: Holly will have experience of everything. So she really should be the next GC! It's a real opportunity for us, as we will have someone who, on qualification, lives and breathes our business, with the ability and insight to link the separate business units. As with any large group, communication between divisions is a constant challenge. Holly will develop the ability to look across all areas and as a consequence, Andrew [Garard, ITV’s Global GC and Company Secretary] and I feel that Holly will be great to refer to when devising operational improvements.

Holly Moore (HM): I was at college studying for A Levels, and last October it was a case of applying for university or apprenticeships. I knew I wanted to get a degree, but didn't want to go full time to university. I felt that many of those who go on to get a law degree subsequently have trouble getting a training contract. Therefore, I felt that an apprenticeship would provide me with practical skills to apply to the law. When I saw the ITV solicitor apprenticeship, that was exactly what I’d envisioned. I applied straightaway and began what was a pretty rigorous application process.

I had to do online application questions, explaining why I wanted a law career and what it was that drew me to ITV. I was then selected to attend an assessment day, the first part of which was a timed contract and advice email drafting exercise; I was nervous, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. Then there was a team task which involved playing the role of a legal team leader, planning resource allocation in a legal team. I was then lucky enough to be invited to interviews with Barry and Andrew. I ended up getting the place, which was a dream!

BM: We had 500 applicants, which we whittled down to 40 for the assessment day. We used the Rare Contextual Recruitment System. [The Rare system weighs factors like the individual’s grades in relation to the average performance of their school, as well as factors such as working while studying, supporting family, or being the first generation to apply for higher education]. We wanted to spot potential, and Andrew and I were keen to reach beyond the obvious metric of a 3 As and above grade threshold. Using the contextual recruitment system, we had a baseline of three Cs at A Level. Those who had three Cs to AAB went into a pool of consideration – those who significantly outperformed their school average joined those students with three As for consideration for an invite to the assessment day. It was about finding the best person for ITV and reaching into the widest talent pool possible. Holly wasn't predicted to achieve three As at A Level, she was predicted two As and a B, which outperformed her school’s average by 52%.

photo of Barry Matthews and Holly Moore

We were looking for someone who had something more than grades (whether they had a Saturday job or volunteered in sports, or the arts), something which meant they were interacting with others and working with a team, which is really key to being an effective in-house lawyer.

The part-time LLB Holly is studying is full of rigour, but also has great flexibility in terms of subject choice and method of delivery. The proximity of City University to our offices meant it all worked. We try to be flexible, as it's a new way of working. We make sure she has time blocked off and has a place to study.

Financially, we did a benchmark exercise to understand what the starting salary was being offered to other solicitor apprentices; we then topped this up so that Holly was paid the London living wage. We pick up the tab on her training costs so that Holly doesn't come out with any debt, unlike some other apprenticeships. When you add in the costs of post-graduate tuition fees and maintenance, it becomes problematic for many students. The LPC acts as a deterrent to many, as it’s hard cash and a real loan with interest paid immediately, unlike the deferred earnings threshold contribution model which underpins under-graduate study costs.

HM: That’s exactly what my parents said: ‘We can't afford to send you to university and law school.’ So without an avenue like this apprenticeship scheme, I would not be able to get qualified.

BM There are aspects of the traditional law degree that might not seem applicable to in-house legal. Criminal law might not seem like something you need every day at ITV! But you need the academic grounding to have a working framework of criminal law to spot potential risk of theft or fraud for example. You need to have that foundation to allow red flags to go off in your mind in case something does come up in a company situation. Holly will be working towards the IP side of things and company law, but what is imperative is a focus on skills. The current system only focuses on skills at the LPC stage. The same is true of ethics; that shouldn't be something that is locked in at the very end.

HM: I was struck by that when looking at universities − the lack of practicality in law degrees. In this scheme, I can be studying contract law at university and then drafting a contract the next day!

BM We’re really happy to share our learnings with other in-house teams and talk people through the process. Andrew and I really do see her as the future GC!

HM: If I’m doing it, I'm going to go the whole way!

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